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Intersection of Life and Faith

Michael Passons-The Avalon Chat

  • Matthew Turner Music and Entertainment Editor
  • 2000 12 Dec
  • COMMENTS
Michael Passons-The Avalon Chat
Michael Passons of {{Avalon}} was recently a guest in our Chat room. He answered the following questions from Crosswalk.com members.


Crosswalk.com: How did you choose the songs for the Christmas album?

Michael: We all had favorites that we brought to the table, and then we tried to think of standards that we thought people would really want to hear and incorporated them in to get them all on the album. In order to get as many on the record as possible we put several of our favorites into medleys.


Crosswalk.com: How did you come to choose Mariahs (Carey) song, Jesus Born on this Day?

Michael: Well, all of us are big fans of her music and we all have her Christmas music. We all felt that was just a felt anointed song even though it wasnt something in the contemporary Christian music market. Wed actually sung the song on a previous Christmas tour and thought it would be great to record it too.


Crosswalk.com: Why are you the only one on the Christmas album that isnt with Santa in the childrens pictures? Did you get coal?

Michael: My Santa picture was just a little too dark. But I personally like the fact that there is a silver Christmas tree in my picture, and that hippityhop is my favorite Christmas memory.


Crosswalk.com: On the pre-release of ==Joy== youre smiling, but on the album youre not and you changed the picture. Why?

Michael: They used an unapproved picture on the pre-release. I look like a geek!


Crosswalk.com: What is {{Avalon}}s involvement with ==Child of the Promise==?

Michael: All of {{Avalon}} will be playing different roles in the ==Child of the Promise== cast. I am Zacharias, Jody plays a prophet, and we tease the girls because all them are just townspeople. Im also a quick-change person; Im also going to be a Roman soldier and a priest.


Crosswalk.com: What are you and the band doing for Christmas?

Michael: Were working up until the 22nd and then we all go to our respective hometowns for some time off the rest of December and January. Ive only spent one Christmas away from the house I grew up in, in Mississippi.


Crosswalk.com: How did you come up with the name Avalon?

Michael: Avalon is a medieval reference to heaven, but basically we liked the way it sounded. We tried several names and all were taken by other bands, and this one was not, and it was pretty cool how it meant heaven in reference to King Arthur.


Crosswalk.com: Is {{Avalon}} planning on having more people in their group?

Michael: We sure hope not. Our plan was not to change members to begin with, but Nikki felt she should be doing something else. So through prayer, we decided that we should keep it at four members, and then entered Cherie and its almost as if shes always been there.


Crosswalk.com: What are the problems, if any, that you guys face being a mixed band as opposed to an all-girl or all-boy band?

Michael: The girls always get to have their way. I dont really know what problems, per say, are with a band that is not Avalon because this is the only one Ive been in, but I would say that the problems are that were just brothers and sisters. We love each other like that and sometimes fight like that.


Crosswalk.com: Michael, have you always been in the band?

Michael: I was actually a founding member and got to help pick everyone that came in. Were all equal in our say in the group, theres no leader, and I think thats what makes it a good group.


Crosswalk.com: I heard {{Avalon}} was going to get some stuff on secular radio. How are you all going about doing that?

Michael: Cant Live a Day played on mainstream radio this past summer. That was a song that mainstream radio was interested in, and it was a good ministry opportunity. Our goal is not to be a crossover act, but if we can spill over into a market that does not know about Christ, then we feel that that is a good ministry.


Crosswalk.com: Did you feel any pressure to live up to or outdo the original version of We Are the Reason?

Michael: We Are the Reason is a pretty special song in that I sang the song when I was in junior high when it first came out, and it was always a song that I sung all through my life. I wasnt really so concerned with making something that would beat the original, as I was glad to share it with another generation.


Crosswalk.com: When will you make a concert video?

Michael: We dont have many videos. We have one music video and then there is one video of us on a multi-artist tour called My Utmost for His Highest. But we will work on that.


Crosswalk.com: Have Jody and Jannas marriages had any effect on the group?

Michael: Not an adverse effect, its like having more family. Sometimes they travel with us on short trips. Just makes it fun!


Crosswalk.com: Where does everybody in the group come from?

Michael: Janna is from Baltimore; Jody is from Tampa; and Cherie is from Providence, R.I., but we all live in Nashville!


Crosswalk.com: Does your group travel with any pets?

Michael: We have actually talked about it many times, because we all love dogs.


Crosswalk.com: Do you think that you are reaching unsaved people? Or do you consider yourself mostly a ministry for the Body?

Michael: Well, I would say mostly a ministry for the church. Just based on the people that come to our concerts and the people we meet. We do get cards and letters from some people who say that they became a Christian because they heard this song or that song of {{Avalon}}s, and God used that to speak in their lives.


Crosswalk.com: What is the most awesome prank youve ever pulled? Or had pulled on you?

Michael: I would have to say when I tricked Janna into eating cat food. Janna loves to eat, so I replaced some hors doeuvres on some lettuce with Cool Cats cat food. It was kind of dark backstage so all I had to say was ooo ... that smells good and she took the bait. She even smelled it first, but she didnt swallow it.


Crosswalk.com: Would {{Avalon}} ever consider making a praise album?

Michael: I dont think wed ever say we wont do this or that, but its nothing that weve talked about or planned for.


Crosswalk.com: Will the groups musical type change at all in the next album?

Michael: There will be a slight evolution of our sound. I think thats important, as an artist, to do. But it wont be so different that someone will say, that doesnt sound like {{Avalon}}. Many more acoustic moments.


Crosswalk.com: Are you still involved with World Vision?

Michael: Yes, very much so. We just took a trip to El Salvador this summer to see the work that World Vision does there. They are a very honest and reputable organization. (Check out www.worldvision.org.)


Crosswalk.com: Do you guys do any fund-raisers to help raise money for World Vision?

Michael: The way World Vision raises money is by sponsoring children at our concerts and the concert attendees.


Crosswalk.com: Are you almost done with the recording of Oxygen?

Michael: We are finishing up this week, but we are still looking for one more song. So we wont be finished until we find that one last song.


Crosswalk.com: When is your next album coming out?

Michael: Oxygen should be released in later spring. Provided we find that last song.


Crosswalk.com: Why is your next album named Oxygen?

Michael: Thats the title of one of the songs, but the whole theme of the record has come together. A general theme of the record is needing God as much as the air we breathe.


Crosswalk.com: From your mothers perspective (Your mom rocks, by the way!) what did your room look like when you were a kid?

Michael: Well, I had a fuzzy bedspread, kinda like bearskin. (I picked it out of a Spiegel catalog.) I always had pets; hamster, gerbil, or a bird, and a chemistry set. I was never fond of fish. They never showed emotion.


Crosswalk.com: How did you know that you were supposed to sing?

Michael: Thats all I can do. I have a degree in piano. I can do that too. But Ive always loved to sing, ever since I was a kid.


Crosswalk.com: Who are your musical inspirations?

Michael: Well, Im a huge fan of {{Amy Grant}} and have been since she appeared on the scene. Shes the reason I fell in love with Christian music and why I wanted to be involved. Ive always been drawn to artists that play the keyboard, Elton John, Lionel Richie, {{Michael W. Smith}}.


Crosswalk.com: Where are you from?

Michael: I grew up in a small city, Yazoo City, Miss.


Crosswalk.com: Whats your favorite cartoon character?

Michael: Bugs Bunny.


Crosswalk.com: Do you have a role model? If so, who?

Michael: Thats the kind of question that is a perfect question and when its asked, I always draw a blank. Someone I look up to enormously is Billy Graham. Ive never met him but Ive always been impressed by the way hes lived his life.


Crosswalk.com: What is it like traveling all the time?

Michael: Well, you are always waking up in a new city. You always have to pack up at the end of every day, but you get to meet a lot of wonderful people and see a lot of wonderful places. For example, just this weekend we were able to see the new Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial, and it was incredible. Things like that make the downside of traveling good, to see the country and meet great people.


Crosswalk.com: Your new album is fantastic, and I love your voice. What is your favorite song to perform?

Michael: I would have to say We Are the Reason, because of how sentimental it is, and its also the song we close our Christmas program with.


Crosswalk.com: What is your favorite month of the year?

Michael: My favorite month of the year is April, because I am not a winter person and April is the beginning of spring and summer.


Crosswalk.com: Whats your favorite fruit?

Michael: I like so many. I think my favorite would be Bing cherries.


Crosswalk.com: Why do you like taking pictures of bugs? (Im referring to Janna.)

Michael: Janna says that to aggravate me. Thats not true. I like to take wildlife photography, sometimes I like abstract. But Ive never taken a picture of a bug, except Janna. Shes the only bug Ive taken a picture of.


Crosswalk.com: Whats your life verse?

Michael: Luke 1:37, Nothing is impossible with God.


Crosswalk.com: Any plans in the works for a solo album?

Michael: No, I dont think that any of us have plans for that right now; we want to stay focused on the group right now. But if I did ... would you buy it?


Crosswalk.com: What made you want to start a band and not go solo?

Michael: Well, I actually had aspirations of having a solo deal, but this is the deal that the Lord brought me. Thats why I decided to make a go of {{Avalon}}.


Crosswalk.com: What is your favorite song to sing?

Michael: Testify to Love.


Crosswalk.com: Do you like disco?

Michael: I like to boogie. I was a kid in the disco era so I really didnt bond with it, but I have nothing against it.


Crosswalk.com: What is your favorite religious video?

Michael: I really, really enjoyed Jesus, The Miniseries. Next to that it would be Veggietales.


Crosswalk.com: What is your favorite {{Veggie Tales}} video?

Michael: The one of Madam Blueberry ... where shes buying all that stuff from Stuffmart. I also like the one where the peas are going, you silly little pickle ...


Crosswalk.com: How old are you?

Michael: I was 35 last Saturday. All three of my group members forgot my birthday.


Crosswalk.com: How many times have you been proposed to?

Michael: I dont think Ive ever been proposed to, but I can count the number of times people have tried to fix me up. Im an independent person, I can do it myself.


Crosswalk.com: You have such great style. Do you select the clothing you wear on stage?

Michael: Thank you. I ultimately say, yes, I like this or, no, I dont. But we have what is called a stylist who does help us pick the clothes and make sure they coordinate.


Crosswalk.com: Do you (honestly) see yourself as a role model? Because you really are, and, although Im sure youre very humble, do you think you live up to that scale?

Michael: Anyone who takes on the responsibility of stepping in front of people takes on that role, whether you like it or not. There are many times when I feel I would disappoint a person that looks at me in the light, but like all of us, Im learning day by day what it is to grow in Christ, and hopefully, become a better person every day.


Crosswalk.com: Do you ever miss just staying at home and living a calm life?

Michael: I do have times throughout the year where I can do that, but I get bored very quickly.


Crosswalk.com: Whats your favorite movie?

Michael: The Color Purple.


Crosswalk.com: Whats your favorite color?

Michael: Its not the color purple; my favorite color is any shade of blue.


Crosswalk.com: Have you seen the Left Behind movie? That is so cool that Hide My Soul is on the soundtrack!

Michael: I have not seen the movie yet, but we have it on our bus, so Ill see it soon. Were very fortunate to be part of that.


Crosswalk.com: Who does your hair? You have nice hair.

Michael: Thank you. Right now Im in between people, so if you have a suggestion ... The lady that cuts my hair is working with Anthony Hopkins, so she just left town to go to Hollywood.


Crosswalk.com: Do you have any advice on overcoming stage fright?

Michael: The way to get over a fear is to expose yourself as much as possible.


Crosswalk.com: What advice do you have for an aspiring Christian singer?

Michael: Well, you have to first decide, is your ministry local or regional? How about ministry, or do you feel led to pursue a career in the Christian music industry? Either way, depending on how you feel the Lord is leading you, take every opportunity to sing, no matter how small. Thats what we all did.


Crosswalk.com: If you could give one suggestion for my children to encourage them as they are living in these days, what would it be?

Michael: It would be to be an individual thinker and not to be swayed by popular opinion or what the crowd is doing, but to know what you believe and stick to it.


Crosswalk.com: What would you recommend to someone who has sold nearly 10,000 copies of an independently produced CD and wants to go further?

Michael: I would recommend either going to the Estes Park-seminar in the Rockies or to Gospel Music Week in Nashville. Get other peoples opinions and see if thats the right thing to do. If you are touching peoples lives then youre already doing a great thing.


Crosswalk.com: Do you like {{Plus One}}s songs?

Michael: I not only like their songs, I like {{Plus One}}.


Crosswalk.com: If you could sing a duet with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Michael: Id have to go with {{Amy Grant}}.


Crosswalk.com: Do you listen to secular music? (Some of it isnt bad or worldly, you know?)

Michael: You dont have to convince me. Yes, I do.


Crosswalk.com: Have you ever met {{Amy Grant}}?

Michael: Yes, we ran into her in a bookstore in Dallas. She just happened to have her guitar with her and we all sang for the employees. So, technically, I did sing with her. But it wasnt a duet, more like a quintet.


Crosswalk.com: Whats your favorite {{Plus One}} song?

Michael: Written on My Heart.


Crosswalk.com: What new groups that have just come out do you like?

Michael: I like Plus One, I have their record. Westlife. I just bought some CDs yesterday. The Coors.


Crosswalk.com: What is your favorite song by {{Amy Grant}}?

Michael: My favorite song by {{Amy Grant}} ... its probably, there are so many, If these Walls Could Speak. My favorite record is ==Lead Me On==.


Crosswalk.com: What are your thoughts about the current election drama?

Michael: Well, it is a drama! Im on pins and needles. I have actually knelt down by the TV and prayed about this. I do feel this is a pivotal point in our countrys morality.